For hands-on testing, we used each mini projector in controlled, real-world environments. We looked at picture quality and brightness both in dark rooms and areas with ambient light. We also looked at color accuracy using a colorimeter in a dark environment to make sure colors were true to life.
We listened to audio quality and discovered it was lacking in every mini projector we tested. If you’re watching videos, we recommend connecting to your own set of speakers either through an auxiliary cord or Bluetooth.
Review units were either purchased or loaned to us by the manufacturer. Companies had no input on our testing processes, and our data was not shared with them prior to publication or in any more detail than is presented in our reviews.
Important Features to Consider When Choosing a Mini Projector
Brightness & Picture Quality
Most mini projectors are built around either laser or LED projection hardware. While both have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to image quality, their differences illustrate the importance of brightness. If you project in a non-traditional environment like outside or during the daytime with lots of ambient light in the room, you need a bright projector to create a clear picture. Projectors with brightness ratings of at least 250 lumens display usable media in most viewing environments.
Technical image quality plays an equally important role in your viewing experience. During our testing, we evaluated each projector’s color accuracy by measuring how well each model rendered a variety of colors. While laser-based projectors tend to have low brightness ratings, their high-quality hardware has some advantages over that of traditional LED pico projectors. During our picture quality testing, the laser mini projectors we reviewed had substantially better color accuracy marks than competing LED models.
In our hands-on testing, we found audio fidelity is rarely a strength for mini projectors. Because of their small statures, these projectors often have to rely on a single low-powered speaker for audio. While high-end models can usually reach high volumes, the audio quality is often thin and poorly defined. Most mini projectors come with 3.5 mm audio output or Bluetooth connectivity so they can connect to external speakers for better sound quality.
Picture Quality & Resolution
As with standard home laptops and desktops, each projector is built with a default resolution. Default resolution varies by projector but is usually comparable to a standard- or high-definition television. Most low-resolution projectors can still display high-definition content like Blu-ray movies and video games, but because the image has to be downsized, image quality generally steps back.
Room Sizes & Throw Distance
If you plan to frequently move your projector around your home or office, make sure you know the projector’s throw specifications. A projector’s throw ratio determines screen size range, and it is calculated by dividing how far the projector is from the screen by the width of the projected image.
Projectors with small throw ratios display large images when close to the surface you project on, while large-ratio models need to be farther away to create a large display. The ideal throw ratio depends on where you plan to use the projector.
A mini projector is a portable device, and especially if you’re moving from office to office or are on the go, you need its battery to last. While you will rarely use your projector anywhere that doesn’t have a power outlet, it is inconvenient to have to tailor your use around how long the battery lasts. Mainstream projectors have batteries that last between one and two hours. High-end models often trade an included battery for better image quality.
Home users usually only need an HDMI port, but business users benefit from projectors with more diverse connection options. If you’re moving between offices or businesses, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll be connecting to a device with modern inputs and outputs. Along with standards like HDMI, business-friendly mini projectors feature options like VGA ports and audio output.